3 Minutes Is All It Takes

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

My dog’s eyes look longingly at me. He wants to go for a walk. Or maybe he wants me to turn the classical music down. Or maybe he just opened his eyes and is looking at me, and I’m reading too much into it. I do that sometimes.

My mind’s been wandering in a million different directions lately, and this week seems to be a resting place for feelings of regret, anxiety, and overwhelm. Regret that I didn’t get the ball rolling on some of the projects I’m working on until recently. Anxiety over these projects doing “well” in the eyes of others. And overwhelm in trying to make everything happen all at once, while some things seem to be falling apart. Oh, and let’s not forget space for being overdramatic.

Last night I stumbled across an article that reminded me of my 3 Minutes of Silence practice (#3MoS). It also reminded me that I hadn’t done it in a while.

“Relaxation is good, but it doesn’t provide the physiological changes you see in mindfulness practice.”

~ Daniel J. Siegel, MD

Huh. While relaxing is good for—well, relaxing—it’s clear that it’s not the same as meditation. When I’m relaxing, I’m shutting down my senses so as to take a breather from myself. It’s occurring to me that when I’m meditating, my mind is working. It’s active. It’s focused. It’s not shutting everything out, it’s allowing everything to be.

Whoa. Big Difference.

The article suggests that the synaptic connections in the brain can be cleaned out and strengthened in as little 3 minutes per day, and then goes on to give an example of what those 3 minutes might look like:

  1. In a quiet room, stand, sit upright, or lie on cushioned surface.
  2. Close your eyes and, for a minute or so, notice what’s happening in your body. Do you feel any heaviness? Register any movements you might be making.
  3. Breathe slowly and deeply for another minute. As you exhale, remember that you’re not trying to change or do anything. Don’t worry about the various thoughts drifting through your mind.
  4. Listen to the sounds around you. Rather than trying to identify each one, just listen. Notice the silences between each sound. Again, take notice of how your body feels, and then slowly open your eyes.

What I liked about this example is the option to stand, sit up, or lie down. Flexibility in meditation is key for me. I can easily stress myself out with rules and regulations, and talk myself out of it because I don’t have 20 minutes or don’t feel like sitting down to meditate. I can put together a combination that works for me, like 3 minutes here, 3 minutes there, and maybe 20 minutes way over there when it makes sense. They key is sticking to some sort of pattern, though.

“The brain responds to repetition with more gusto than it does to duration.”

~ Daniel J. Seigel,  MD

So as I type this to you this morning, I’m renewing my commitment to take 3 minutes every day and put it toward cleaning out the synaptic connections in my brain and strengthening them. I’m renewing my commitment publicly, not because I expect any of you to hold me accountable, but because I hope that some of you will. And maybe even some of you will join me.

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